Time to go Mo? Salah’s manager posts cryptic tweet after shock sub
Mohamed Saleh, the English Premier League’s top goal scorer, cut a forlorn figure on the bench as Liverpool slumped to its fifth home defeat — and now his future is the subject of wild speculation.
Saleh was substituted in the 62nd minute of the Reds’ 1-0 defeat against Chelsea on Friday morning (AEDT), a loss that left the defending champion 22 points behind leaders Manchester City in seventh position.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said he was looking for a spark after Mason Mount had put Chelsea in front in the 42nd minute and opted to drag Saleh instead of Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino because he felt the Egyptian was suffering physically.
Saleh looked frustrated as he took his place in the stands but his coach wasn’t bothered by the reaction.
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah sits in the stands after being substituted. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths / POOL / AFP)Source:AFP
“When the boys look disappointed that’s not a problem,” Klopp said. “I could have changed other players but he looked in that moment like he felt the intensity and I didn’t want to risk him.”
But the decision was criticised by Reds legend Jamie Carragher. “I’m surprised at Mo Salah coming off, I really am. He doesn’t look too happy himself,” Carragher said on Sky Sports.
“Liverpool need a goal and he is the top scorer in the Premier League.”
A cryptic tweet from Salah’s manager, Ramy Abbas Issa, also indicated all isn’t well. Some interpreted the full stop to indicate Salah’s time at Anfield was over.
The win saw Chelsea gain the upper hand in a tight battle for a place in next season’s Champions League. The Blues moved into fourth in the Premier League, four points clear of Liverpool.
After a 68-game unbeaten league run at Anfield over nearly four years was ended in January, the English champions are now on their worst ever league run at home.
By contrast, Chelsea’s unbeaten run since Thomas Tuchel replaced the sacked Frank Lampard in January stretches to 10 games.
Tuchel was appointed with Chelsea five points adrift of the top four, but they are now in pole position to secure a much-needed return to the riches of the Champions League after spending $400 million on new players in last summer’s transfer market.
Timo Werner is one of the big money signings that has failed to live up to his price tag.
The German international, who has long linked with a move to Liverpool before arriving at Stamford Bridge, has now scored just once in his last 18 Premier League games.
PREMIER LEAGUE TOP GOAL SCORERS
17 — Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
15 — Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
14 — Harry Kane (Tottenham)
13 — Patrick Bamford (Leeds), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Son Heung-Min (Tottenham)
However, Werner was desperately unfortunate not to end that barren run when he flicked the ball beyond onrushing goalkeeper Alisson Becker and bundled the ball over the line.
A VAR review, though, controversially chopped the goal off for the most marginal of off-side decisions.
At the other end, Sadio Mane should have then given Liverpool the lead against the run of play when he skewed a glorious chance well wide.
The combination of Fabinho and Ozan Kabak was Liverpool’s 19th central defensive partnership of an injury-ravaged season.
Chelsea were easily exposing the lack of co-ordination in the backline and another simple ball over the top three minutes before halftime freed Mount before he cut inside to brilliantly find the far corner.
Andy Robertson cleared Hakim Ziyech’s goalbound shot off the line as the visitors also started the second-half strongest.
Needing a goal, Klopp took the surprise decision to withdraw the Premier League’s top goalscorer Salah as Diogo Jota made his return from a three-month injury lay-off.
Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (centre) leaves the pitch after being substituted. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE / POOL / AFP)Source:AFP
Werner had another great chance to seal the three points, but Alisson spread himself well to block at his near post.
Klopp’s men have now won just three of their last 13 league games to tumble down the table since topping the standings at Christmas.
Tuchel has continuously followed in the footsteps of his compatriot, succeeding Klopp at Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.
The Chelsea boss had won just two of their previous 14 meetings, but came out well on top in their first tussle in English football.
— with AFP
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